Braille Readers Are Leaders
Our 2022/2023 Braille Readers Are Leaders contest is officially open. We are using Beanstack again this year to log your minutes of reading. There are badges to earn, prizes to win, and lots of Braille to read!
General Contest Information
- Purpose: to promote the joy of reading for pleasure; to promote a pride in Braille as a viable literacy medium equal to print; and to demonstrate the importance of independent reading in the development of Braille literacy skills.
- Eligibility: blind and low-vision Braille-reading students and adults.
Registration for the 2023-2024 contest will open in December.
Summary of Important Dates
- November 7: Registration is open: create your account and register for the contest.
- December 5: The beginning of the contest and the first day participants can count log their minutes.
- January 23: The end of the contest, the last day participants can track and add more minutes, and the last day to submit a registration form.
- January 27: All minutes read during the contest period must be logged on Beanstack by 11:59 p.m., Eastern Standard Time.
- February 10: Winners will be announced/notified.
- Mid February: Prizes will be mailed out.
Breaking Down the Contest
Contestants compete against their same-grade peers nationwide to read for the most minutes during the reading period. There are five grade categories and an adult category in the competition: grades K-1, grades 2-3, grades 4-5, grades 6-8 (middle school), and grades 9-12 (high school), adults.
NOTE: Students classified as “un-graded,” or those who have reading delays, should register in the same category as their same-age peers. For example, a sixteen-year-old student who reads at a third grade level should register in the high school category. However, he or she may read third grade materials. We have found that when students read material appropriate for their reading level, they are able to be competitive with their same-age peers.
*This year we have broken down the adult challenges into three separate categories. There is Novice, Intermediate, and Expert reading challenges. Here are the description for each:
NOVICE: This contest is for adults ages 18 - 100 and above! This contest is for novice Braille readers. If you are just learning Braille, new to reading it, or still learning contractions, this is the contest for you. Log your reading minutes each day and once you hit certain milestones, you get an entry into the grand prize drawing. The more minutes you read, the more entries you will receive.
INTERMEDIATE: This contest is for adults ages 18 - 100 and above! This contest is for intermediate Braille readers. If you know the Braille code, use Braille every day but only read Braille for pleasure infrequently, this is the contest for you. Log your reading minutes each day and once you hit certain milestones, you get an entry into the grand prize drawing.
EXPERT: This contest is for adults ages 18 - 100 and above! This contest is for expert Braille readers. If you read Braille fluently, use it daily, read Braille for pleasure, and prefer to read in this format, this is the contest for you. Log your reading minutes each day and once you hit certain milestones, you get an entry into the grand prize drawing
All contest participants will receive a Braille Readers Are Leaders t-shirt. This shirt will be mailed as soon as possible after the participant registers for the contest and logs their first amount of minutes read. So, if a participant reads for 20 minutes on December 5 and logs his minutes into Beanstack that day, his t-shirt will be mailed to him as soon as December 6. If however, participants wait until the end of the contest to register and log all of their minutes at once, they will not receive a t-shirt or any other prizes they may have won until we send out all of the prizes in mid-February. In other words, register as soon as registration opens and start logging minutes right away, every day if possible!!
This year, instead of a general prize pack which is the same for all participants, prizes will be awarded based on number of minutes read. The more a participants reads, the more prizes they will earn! When participants log minutes each day as they read, they will receive emails with fun badges they have earned in recognition of their efforts. Participants will also be notified when the reading milestone they have reached also has a prize attached to it.
Participants can also check out the leader board to see how their number of minutes stack up against their friends. We encourage participants to see how many minutes they can read throughout the contest period. Can you have a reading streak each day of the contest? What prizes and badges can you earn? The only way to find out is to register, read, and log your minutes!!
In addition to the prizes earned based on minutes read, the participant who read the most number of minutes in a particular grade category will win a cash prize.
Rules for the Contest
- Contestants must meet the eligibility criteria.
- All reading materials must meet the criteria for acceptable materials (see below).
- All materials must be read between December 5 and January 23.
- Registration form must have the name and contact information of a parent, guardian, or teacher.
- Not meeting the required dates for registration or logging minutes will disqualify a contestant.
- All decisions of the judges are final.
The parent/guardian/teacher is responsible for:
- Registering the student for the contest.
- Assisting the student in finding suitable extracurricular Braille books and other materials to read for the contest.
- Verifying the student read the Braille material listed, and that the material was read between the beginning and ending dates of the contest.
- Submitting the reading log in an accurate, complete, and timely fashion.
The contestant, parent, guardian or teacher may be contacted if the contest judges have questions or need additional information about an entry. Judges may, based upon the information available to them, adjust the number of pages or disqualify a contestant.
Reading Material Guidelines
The overall purpose of the contest is to encourage extracurricular reading for pleasure, so the following lists of acceptable and unacceptable contest Braille reading materials are given. The lists also take into account the fact that most of what students in kindergarten, first, and second grades learn in school is connected to reading, and therefore there is not always a clear distinction between required reading and recreational reading.
All material must have identifiable source information that can be checked for verification such as author, publisher, or sponsoring organization.
Acceptable (recreational or independent reading)
- Books: fiction or nonfiction, hardback or paperback, Braille only or print/Braille format, mass-produced or individually transcribed.
- Newspapers in Braille or read on a Braille display (without speech)
- Stand-alone articles or tracts with identifiable authors and/or publishers. For example, NFB Braille literature (such as banquet speeches), or reprints of articles that originally appeared in the Braille Monitor.
- Manuals for club activities. For example, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H Club, etc.
- Religious publications. For example, portions of the Bible, Koran, Torah, Sunday school lessons, meditations, etc.
- Materials read in school during free-reading time, in the library, or under any circumstance where students are allowed freedom to choose what they read.
- Supplemental reading books to beginning reading series, such as those that come with the Building on Patterns reading series from the American Printing House for the Blind.
- Books from the Accelerated Reading Program list.
Not Acceptable (materials required for school assignments, reference materials, and other reading material not designed to be read in its entirety)
- Textbooks and related materials assigned as required reading by the student’s teacher or educational program.
- Items without identifiable source information that can be checked for verification, such as author, publisher, or sponsoring organization.
Recording Your Reading (Beanstack)
To receive full credit for the number of minutes read during the contest, it is crucial that the material read is recorded accurately. We are using Beanstack as the tool for recording minutes read this year. First, create an account Beanstack. If there is more than one Braille reader in your household, you may add each reader to one central account in order to make logging minutes easier.
Instructions for filling out the Reading Log
- Create your account on Beanstack by visiting http://actionfund.beanstack.org. Video: How to create an account on Beanstack
- Material Title: Please provide the title of the book, magazine, etc.
- Author: Please give the author’s name
- Number of Minutes: Record the number of minutes you have read each day. How to video: Logging Minutes.
As always, the American Action Fund does not want to exclude any interested contest participant who cannot use Beanstack or who does not have access to the internet. Please contact BrailleReadingContest@actionfund.org or call 410-659-9315 and we will be happy to assist you.
Common Questions & Answers
- Q: What if I didn’t know about the contest until after it began? Can I still enter?
A: Yes, you can register using Beanstack until January 21, 2022.
- Q: If I enter late, can I still count the minutes I have read since December 1?
A: Yes, but only if your parent, guardian, or teacher can verify that you read that number of minutes.
3. Q: What if I don’t finish reading a book? Can I count the minutes that I did read?
4. Q: I read a lot of electronic books with a refreshable Braille display. Are these eligible?
A: Yes Note: If using a refreshable Braille display, any speech access associated with the Braille display must be turned off at all times during counted reading minutes. In other words, time spent listening to books using a Braille display or any other audio equipment, does not count in this contest. If a beginning reader is listening to a book and actually reading along in Braille to build up speed or accuracy, that reading time can be counted if the parent, guardian, or teacher can verify actual Braille reading is being done while listening.
5. Q: I have trouble finding enough Braille material for myself/my child/my students. Do you have any suggestions?
A: Yes. The American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults gives a free Braille book each month to any blind child or adult who would like one. The books are written for children between second and fourth grade, although children or adults, or even slightly younger children who are strong readers will enjoy these books. For more information about the books being offered, and to enroll in the program, please visit AAF Braille Books Program.
You may also find appropriate reading material at sharebraille.org. Once you get to the website all you need to do is create an account and you can begin perusing books by title, author, or category. You request books from folks who have put Braille and print/Braille books they no longer want or need. The Action Fund has put up more than 6000 books to take from the Kenneth Jernigan Library.
Additional sources of Braille materials are listed in the Braille Book Resources.
Do you still have questions? Contact us at:
American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults
ATTN: Braille Readers Are Leaders
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, MD 21230
BrailleReadingContest@actionfund.org with BRAL in the subject line or call 410-659-9315.
History of Braille Readers Are Leaders
In the early 1980s, the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children and the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (both divisions of the National Federation of the Blind) collaborated to establish and administer the Braille Readers Are Leaders contest to help promote the importance of Braille in the lives of blind people and encourage the field of blindness professionals to create innovative teaching strategies. One of the many positive results of this project was the identification of a lack of free reading materials that blind children could keep for themselves which led to the establishment of the Braille Books Program by the American Action Fund.
After more than thirty years of offering the Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest, its administration has been transitioned to the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults which has made the commitment to continue and expand the contest as part of its program to promote Braille literacy for children and adults. We are proud that the National Federation of the Blind continues to be a nationwide partner in this important program.
Where to Find Braille Reading Materials
Find Braille reading materials through various resources including:
- Braille Books Program
- Braille Storybook Resources
- The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled
Join us as we continue to promote Braille throughout the nation, a cornerstone mission of the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults and the National Federation of the Blind.